The Mackay Region boasts spectacular rainforests and national parks, secluded islands and beaches, pristine coral reefs, genuine country hospitality and historic townships.
Known for its sugar cane plantations and beautiful beaches, the city of Mackay is central for car hire travellers along the magnificent East Coast of Australia. With a population nearing 80 000, Mackay is a popular tourist destination and often used as a base to explore the surrounding beaches and natural attractions. Located on the central Queensland Coastline, almost between Brisbane and Cairns, the Mackay district covers a massive stretch of land, including islands in the Great Barrier Reef.
The tropical weather means sunny days and blue skies, with close to perfect temperatures throughout most of the year. There is the occasional thunderstorm, but cyclones are not as common.
The hub of Mackay is the city centre and, as a result of a recent community arts project, the central area has been beautifully revamped with 580 pieces of environmental art. Close by is Artspace Mackay which is the museum and art gallery. You could also spend a day or more enjoying the 400 plus shopping outlets, located in three major shopping centres in Mackay.
South of the city is the Regional Botanical Gardens which have only been opened for a few years. You will find all species of vegetation common to the tropics and surrounding rainforests.
Support the local industry and visit a sugar mill. During July – November, which is the crushing season, you can join a tour which takes about two hours, and includes taste tests. You will pick up some valuable information on the production process.
Brampton Island is known for its spectacular national park, brilliant coral reefs and dozen white beaches. You will need to book ahead and stay on the island overnight if you wish to visit, but the peace and solitude will make it a memorable stay. Smaller islands are Keswick, St Bees and Skawfell which deserve attention as they are also National Parks, and day trips are allowed.
There are not too many beaches in the world that have a rainforest backdrop. You will find this at the beach at Cape Hillsborough National Park, located back on the mainland. There are also 30 other beaches to choose from, which means one for every day of the month. Just watch out for box jellyfish and other stingers, but if you are swimming in patrolled areas you are unlikely to come across them. Enjoy all forms of water sports, walking the many tracks available or simply driving along the beautiful beach roads.
Fishing is a popular past time with the locals, with fishing competitions running through the year. Every where you turn there seems to be a great spot to cast your line and relax. The estuaries, river systems, beaches and creeks are all brimming with great eating fish so even if you are not a keen fisherman it is a great place to learn. The National Parks are equally as alluring as the beaches, and are all completely unique. Eungella National Park is located close to 90 minutes west of Mackay. There are many short walks to choose from, or the Mackay Highlands Great Walk will be worth the extra night camping out. For the adventurous this walk is a must to make the most of the breathtaking scenery and getting into the heart of the rainforest.
Finch Hatton Gorge is located an hour from Mackay in the Eungella Range, and promises brilliant scenery. The two main rainforest walks will take you to the Wheel of Fire and Araluen Falls where you will enjoy a refreshing swimming hole and waterfall.
Mackay is a tropical haven, and a fantastic city to stop for a while and enjoy the raw beauty of the Australian coastline. For a long or short car hire break, you will find plenty to do as you drive in this beautiful part of the world.
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Jenny Brewer is a travel agent whose passion is writing. For more of her articles visit Car Hire Australia